"A town like no other ... "
In 1915, the Chinatown in booming Walnut Grove, California burned to the ground and a group of Chinese pioneers from Chungsan, China leased nine acres of pear orchards a mile upriver and built their own town. This became Locke, the last rural Chinese town built in America – a place described by California magazine as “a town like no other."
"The Monte Carlo of California"
Forbidden by law to become U.S. citizens, hold legitimate jobs or own land in California, the residents of Locke carved out livelihoods from an array of occupations in addition to dominating agricultural production in the Delta. Alongside restaurants, dry goods stores, markets and packing sheds thrived businesses geared to serve the needs of a population of farm laborers, mostly single men: gambling halls, brothels, speakeasies and opium dens. The town’s wide-open nature attracted thrill-seekers from throughout California who arrived by rail, river boat and brand new roadways connecting Locke to Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to area ranchers, regular visitors to Locke included legislators, law enforcement officers and other public officials from California’s capital just 25 miles away.